Nifty Or Thrifty: Little Cup PvP Guide

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The “Nifty Or Thrifty” article series takes a comprehensive look at the meta for the upcoming Cup format… this time, it’s Little Cup. As is typical for the series, I’ll cover not only the top meta picks, but also some mons where you can save some dust with cheaper second move unlock costs… or not needing to unlock a second move at all! I usually dive right in on Pokémon with the cheapest second move unlock cost (10,000 dust) and work my way through from there until finally concluding with the most expensive unlocks, but this time I’m going to start with a pair of meta-defining ‘mons, the ones that most people are chatting about and that the meta really revolves around, before I dive into the standard run from the thriftiest on up.

We’ve got a lot to cover, so let’s not waste any more time. Here we go!

LITTLE GIANTS

BRONZOR

Bronzor SteelPsychic

Confusion | Payback & Heavy Slam

If you have spent even a minute looking into any discussion on Little Cup, you have surely seen people chatting excitedly (or perhaps despondently) about Bronzong’s pre-evolution, because Bronzor has the same strong defensive typing, great stats, and good moveset. Put it all together and Zoro (as I’ve taken to calling it) is easily the most dominant figure in this meta, with only a handful of Darks, Fires, and select Grounds that give it any cause for concern, and regardless of shielding scenarios. Much of the rest of this article is going to be spent reviewing what can and cannot overcome Zoro, because it will potentially be even MORE centralizing than Aerodactyl was in Flying Cup. Yes, you absolutely CAN win without it, but you better be prepared to BEAT it, because it will be all over the place.

One potential answer I’ve seen mentioned here and there is… well, Bronzong. With Tackle, Bronzor can beat Confusion Bronzor consistently, but Tackle is a terrible move that Pokémon who have it generally want no parts of, and torpedoes Zoro’s overall performance. I do NOT recommend using Tackle Bronzor, personally. Stick with the (soon-to-be) tried and true.

DEINO

Deino DarkDragon

Dragon Breath | Body Slam & Crunch

So first off, yes, despite the fact that its Dragon Breath and Body Slam are both resisted by Bronzor, Deino wins thanks to resisting Zoro’s Psychic damage in return and eventually getting there thanks to Crunch, but MAN, is it a long slog of a battle. That’s not all that makes Deino great, though, as it overcomes a sizeable chunk of the meta, including many of the things that most threaten Zoro. In fact, Deino is a nearly perfect bodyguard for Bronzor, beating everything of note that vanquishes Zoro in all even shield scenarios except Alolan Sandshrew and Shadow Cubone in 2v2 shielding. Deino will surely be a common sight on Bronzor teams. It’s not a cheap investment, with a 75,000 dust second move unlock cost, but for people wanting to protect their Zoro — or just have a solid slayer on their own team — building a good one is easily worth the investment. After all, worst case, you can evolve it to a Zweilous down the line that will still be well under 1500 CP for Great League.

There are others with high overall win percentages (two of them will lead off the next section), but Bronzor and Deino are the pair you are most likely to see on any given team, and most of the remaining writeup will consist of stuff that’s gunning for them.

10,000 Dust/25 Candy

COTTONEE

Cottonee GrassFairy

Charm/Razor Leaf | Seed Bomb & Energy Ball

So Charm seems like the obvious choice as a way to absolutely obliterate Darks and Fighters (and many others). There is literally no harder counter to Deino, for example, which goes down to just three Charms. But don’t completely discount Razor Leaf. Cottonee’s Fairy typing means that it resists and still beats those same Darks and Fighters and Dragons and such, just not quite as oppressively, and it then easily picks off new stuff like Seel and Swinub and obviously becomes oppressive now against anything part Water, Ground, and/or Rock (for the price of losing to things like Drifloom, Shelmet, and Chikorita, which Charm beat instead).

SPRITZEE

Spritzee Fairy

Charm | Thunderbolt (& Draining Kiss?)

Last time in Little Cup, Cottonee was basically your ONLY viable Charmer. But not anymore! Spritzee finally gets a chance to crash the party, and while Cottonee is still superior in a couple ways thanks to its Grass subtyping (such as holding on the beat things like Shadow Oddish), Spritzee is otherwise just flat out better, taking down stuff Cotton cannot like Alolan Vulpix, Shelmet, Seel (with either fast move), and usually Cottonee itself. Say hello to your new best Charmer… for better or for worse.

WYNAUT

Wynaut Psychic

Counter | Mirror Coat

As a baby, technically Wynaut would benefit from the Baby Discount™ and get a second move for only 10,000 dust, but uh… the only charge move it gets is Mirror Coat, which is a very mediocre move, dealing 30 less damage than Psychic (the move) for the same 55 energy cost, but it at least deals Psychic (the type) damage, handy for picking off Fighters and such. But the main thing to Wynaut is Counter, which combined with its insane bulk, allows Wynaut to just wear a ton of things down. Think of it like a mini Defense Deoxys. It’s handy that it can beat several key things with just Counter, including Darks (like Deino and Shadow Stunky), Ices (like Snorunt and Swinub), Steels and Rocks like Alolan Diglett and Onix, and even some bonuses like Shadowy Razor Leafers (take that, Grassholes!), Dratini, Vulpix, and Mud Boys… and again, even a lousy move like Mirror Coat adds on Seel and Lotad and Cubone and Igglybuff and such. Other than hating on things weak to Counter (Wynaut may be the best Fighter in the format, ironically), Wynaut’s claim to fame here is just hanging around and grinding a lot of varied things into dust. It is perhaps the safest swap in the meta.

BARBOACH

Barboach WaterGround

Mud Shot | Ice Beam & Aqua Tail/Mud Bomb

In a theme seen a lot in this meta, Barboach imitates its later evolution (Whiscash) with “baby” versions of its moves, in this case Ice Beam as a substitute for Cash’s famous Blizzard. That makes Boach a sneaky potential counter to things “Mud Boys” shouldn’t be able to beat, like Deino, Drifloon, and even Cottonee, while still doing traditional Mud things like beating Steels, Rocks, Poisons, and Fires. Barboach also conveniently can win against things like Nincada, Riolu, and Dratini, while Ice Beam is nasty against Grounds like Cubone and the other Water/Grounds (Wooper and opposing Boaches). Aqua Tail seems like generally the best second move option, alone able to secure big wins like Shadow Stunky, Wooper, and Cottonee thanks to its speed (just 35 energy means it is tied for fastest charge move in the game), but it’s worth noting that Mud Bomb beats Chinchou and gives Bronzor a much nastier fight (though Zoro typically still wins unless shields are down). Either way, this little sand worm does an admirable job of making Whiscash proud.

PURRLOIN

Purrloin Dark

Sucker Punch | Night Slash & Dark Pulse/Play Rough

While Purrloin is not too exciting overall, it IS one of the most consistent (and cheap!) counters to Bronzor (especially if you just go straight Night Slash) while also sucker punching things like Barboach, Wooper, Cubone, Shadow Stunky, Dratini, Seel, and of course Drifloon. It’s really not a bad list of names, just shorter than one might like. Play Rough seems like a great coverage move on paper, but generally, after looking over a number of simulations, it seems you’re more likely to want the knockout power of Dark Pulse instead.

IGGLYBUFF

Igglybuff NormalFairy

Feint Attack | Body Slamᴸ & Shadow Ball/Wild Charge

Warning up front: the success of Wigglytuff’s ancestor revolves in large part around a Legacy move, Body Slam. But especially with a decent Attack stat, that success can be sweet. (Higher Attack leads to wins most notably against Wooper, Vulpix, and Alolan Diglett, BTW.) In addition to getting wins like Drifloon, Barboach, S-Stunky, Nincada, and others, what is most impressive is that Igglybuff beats Wynaut, Deino, AND potentially Bronzor as well, depending on IVs. That is a rare and valuable trifecta. I will confess I already burned an Elite TM to get my Iggly that Legacy Slam, and while that is certainly not for everyone, I have no real regrets. (Ask me again in a week. 😂) Oh, and there is Wild Charge to consider too, which gets the mirror match and things like Ducklett… but at the expense of Wynaut and Alolan Diglett, among others, plus obviously any shot at Bronzor. I recommend Shadow Ball myself. 👍

DWEBBLE

Dwebble BugRock

Smack Down | X-Scissor & Rock Blast

Ironically, if this were Crustle, you’d probably want Fury Cutter in this meta for extra Psychic and Dark hate, but you can make do with Smack Down in a specialist role, though you do want good PvP IVs here to guarantee stuff like Nincada, Dratini, Purrloin, and Lickitung. Beyond that, it is nice that you get Deino, Fires, and bring particular hate to any Flyers that are around. But that is admittedly more fringe type stuff, which is probably where Dwebble sits as well. Like the potential, but the overall results don’t lie.

HOOTHOOT

Hoothoot NormalFlying

Feint Attack | Sky Attack & Night Shade

The best regular bird in Little Cup, for what that’s worth. Like Noctowl, Hoothoot is an airborne tank that can take a lot of punishment and just wear stuff down, with a list of wins that includes names like Cottonee, Drifloon, Wynaut, and every Bug and Grass and Ground that doesn’t chuck rocks or throw snowballs, and a few other wins here and there on top of all that. The downside is that it doesn’t get either Deino or Bronzong, but with Night Shade it at least has something to maim Zoro if it gets lazy with shielding (despite Shade itself being a very mediocre move).

ARON

Aron SteelRock

Metal Claw | Body Slam & Iron Head/Rock Tomb

Not a ton to say here, but little Aron is at least a solid Fairy and Deino counter that also handles some anti-Ice, Rock, and Bug roles. It may be worth it for some teams just based on how well it handles Cottonee and Deino, with the rest just being a bonus. Oh, and as a Shadow, it can add Ducklett to the win column as well. Aron is a decent little core breaker candidate in this meta, and a common spawn that is dirt cheap to build from the ground up.

RIOLU

Riolu Fighting

Counter | Cross Chop

When it comes to Counter users in this format, it’s Wynaut and Riolu, and that’s IT. (Bonsly too, but to get one that fits under 500 CP requires some low level account trading hijinks, so….) Counter alone makes Riolu interesting, which is a good thing because the only charge move it has worth anything is Cross Chop. Riolu also lacks the Steel subtyping so helpful to its evolution Lucario. Even still, it is definitely a contender, able to beat Deino and many other things that give Bronzor (and Deino) trouble. Do note that getting Riolu under 500 CP at hatch level requires a trade (it’s just too big even with worst possible 10-10-10 hatch IVs), but it’s a far easier trade than, say, getting a Level 15 Lugia or Cresselia into Great League. Good luck!

LITLEO

Litleo FireNormal

Ember | Crunch & Flame Charge

Fire is obviously a great way to burn through Bronzor… and several other things like Charmers, Grasses, Ices, and in Litleo’s case, bonuses like Drifblim (thanks to Crunch) and Vullaby too. Litleo missed the original Little Cup by only a couple months, but this time it gets to play and really contribute!

TEPIG

Tepig Fire

Ember | Body Slam & Flamethrower

That all said, Tepig looks more impressive than Litleo overall, beating everything Litleo can plus Igglybuff, Shelmet, and Wynaut, and in most cases, with more HP leftover. I’ve had several folks ask excitedly about the Fire Pig specifically, and yes, my friends… it is well worth it.

RAZOR LEAFERS

Razor Leaf | Various

So from what I see, there are three main options here. You have SHADOW TURTWIG, currently the highest rated on PvPoke, which does the best against Lickitung and is the only one that consistently beats Drifloon. Then there’s little BUDEW, which can beat S-Wig head to head thanks to a Poison subtyping (extra Grass resistance), as well as Croagunk and, uniquely, Dratini. And finally we have Kanto staple ODDISH. (Yes, I know this is breaking the 10k section a little, as Oddish’s second move costs 50k dust, but just go with me here, just this once.) You can go with the original variety, which also beats S-Wig and Croagunk, and cannot beat Dratini but picks up wins against Ducklett and Nincada instead, as well as gaining back a win against Lickitung that S-Wig achieved. Or you can roll with Shadow Oddish and get all of those PLUS potentially Pawniard and Chikorita. Whichever one you perhaps go with, there are few better answers to the many Waters, Grounds, and Rocks here (the Razor Leafers beat ALL of them, at least as long as they have a shield to throw up), and they capably handle things like Riolu, Igglybuff, Purrloin, and even Snorunt as well. If you like Grassholing in Great League, there are ways to continue to be evil in Little League too.

There are other Grass options among those with Vine Whip, AKA the Grass starters. BULBASAUR‘s niche is similar to big bro Venusaur: Sludge Bomb giving it an edge against other Grass, particularly Charm Cottonee which it beats head to head, as well as a win over Chikorita. CHIKORITA, for its part, takes out Alolan Diglett, Nincada, Purrloin, and uniquely is able to best Dratini and Riolu. And finally, SNIVY is basically just a worse ‘Rita, losing to Dratini and Riolu but getting the other same wins, and often with a little more HP left over (its one saving grace).

50,000 Dust/50 Candy

LOTAD

Lotad WaterGrass

Razor Leaf | Bubble Beam & Energy Ball

Just to bring the Razor Leaf discussion to a close, here’s an intriguing alternative. I actually don’t have much more to say–you can scan that list of wins yourself–but I know Lotad has been popular in unofficial “Sippy Cup” formats like this in the past, and it likely will be here as well, so study that list to know what to expect. Or study this list, with Water Gun instead, which beats Vullaby, Pawniard, and Spritzee and ties Vulpix (rather than the wins versus Alolan Vulpix, Igglybuff, and Shadow Stunky that Razor Leaf beats instead). One fun note: Lotad, like a handful of ‘mons in this meta, only HAS two charge moves, so at least that decision is easy!

SNOVER

Snover IceGrass

Powder Snow | Energy Ball & Stomp/Ice Beam

Say hello to Little League’s Abomasnow. As you’d probably expect, yes, Snover tends to beat the Dragons (Deino included) and most Grasses and Flyers, as well as most Grounds and Waters thanks to Energy Ball. The best second move actually seems to be Stomp, not so much for pure damage (though it does okay, but more for the bait potential to set up a bigger closing move. As with Aboma, Shadow Snover is a sidegrade alternative, losing Shadow Stunky and unfortunately Deino (usually), but gaining wins against Ducklett, Snorunt, and Swinub, and with really good IVs, Nincada and Cottonee as well! This is an underrated pick, folks… don’t overlook it.

I’ll mention HOPPIP here as our last real Grass option worth discussing, but since it lacks a Flying move–even a mediocre one like Jumpluff has–it’s actually relatively boring. The best thing you might be able to do with it is sneak in a Dazzling Gleam on Deino that hits it so hard it would die twice. 🤩

GALARIAN FARFETCH’D

Farfetch'd (Galarian) Fighting

Fury Cutter | Leaf Blade & Brave Bird

A Fighter that is best running with any Fighting moves, and with a very unique body of work as a result. Again, I’ll let you look over the list yourself. It’s rather… eclectic. Frustratingly, it fails to beat Deino, but it’s a decent little list otherwise.

DUCKLETT

Ducklett WaterFlying

Wing Attack | Bubble Beam & Brave Bird/Aerial Ace

Gonna keep this one pretty simple. Yes, the results are somewhat skewed by good Bubble Beam baits, and the win column lacks Bronzor and Deino, but you have to like the overall potential. And it’s still a perfectly viable overall performance even without any baits at all. You very likely have a Duck already on hand if you’ve played other Little League formats, so yes, deploy freely!

CHINCHOU

Chinchou WaterElectric

Bubble/Spark | Bubble Beam & Thunderbolt

I know, I know… more Bubble Beam baits. But Chinchou is, in my estimation, the only truly viable Electric type here, and that counts for something, no? Bubble does good work (and beats stuff like Onix where Water has obvious advantages), but Spark beats Drifloon beats Drifloon and outraces Spritzee at the cost of becoming rather impotent versus Grounds. This is not quite Lanturn, but if you like using that, Chinchou has a similar feel and may be for you. This is not quite Lanturn, but if you like using that, Chinchou has a similar feel and may be for you.

WOOPER

Wooper WaterGround

Water Gun/Mud Shot | Body Slam & Mud Bomb

The primary Mud Boy alternative to Barboach, though lacking the Ice coverage of Boach with its Ice Beam means that Wooper cannot beat Deino, Cottonee, Drifloon, Hoothoot, or… well, Wooper like Barboach can. What it DOES do is beat Igglybuff and present a much harder challenge for Bronzor, potentially winning the 2v2 shield with Water Gun. Water Gun does actually seem slightly better/more versatile overall, with Mud Shot better handling Chinchou, Riolu, an Dratini, but Water Gun instead beating Snorunt and most Grounds, including Swinub, Nincada, Cubone, and… oh hey, back at ya, Barboach! 💪

ALOLAN DIGLETT

Diglett (Alola) GroundSteel

Mud Slap | Mud Bomb & Rock Tomb

First up on Alolan Diglett’s impressive résumé: it is one of very few things that can beat Bronzor — even a #1 IV Zoro — in 1v1 and 2v2 shield scenarios. And this showcases its inherent strengths: solid Ground moves that wear down a lot of things, but especially those weak to such damage (Ground is one of Zoro’s very few Achilles’ heels), and a Steel subtyping that resists a TON of things… A-Dig has ten resistances in all, including ALL of Bronzor’s moves, and Deino’s Dragon Breath and Body Slams. And so yes, depending on IVs, A-Dig can beat Deino across all even shield scenarios as well, though it is a little close for comfort at times. A-Dig also tends to beat Stunky, Croagunk, Onix, and Chinchou, none of which appreciate a steady dose of Ground damage, and Igglybuff, Alolan Sandshrew, Dratini, and often the Fires as well. This is a sneaky good pick in this meta if you have a good one.

SHADOW CUBONE

Cubone (Shadow) Ground

Mud Slap | Bone Club & Bulldoze

It’s a solid enough Ground type, sure. Handles standard moveset Zoro fine, though can lose (closely) in 0 shield and/or to Psyshock Bronzor, and gets Deino in 1v1 and 2v2 shielding as well. Does most standard Ground things otherwise. You’ll see them because Cubone is popular and easy to acquire and build, but you can do a bit better… though you can also do a LOT worse. Cubone is fine… just wish it had a better second charge move than Bulldoze.

NOSEPASS

Nosepass Rock

Rock Throw | Rock Blast & Thunderbolt/Rock Slide

Lacking the Steel subtyping of its marvelously mustachioed evolution, Nosepass still does plenty of good in this meta. Of particular note: it pushes Deino to a stalemate in 1v1 shielding and typically emerges victorious in other shielding scenarios, which is quite nice on top of all the other good it does (crushing Bugs, smashing Ices, knocking out Flyers, putting out Fires, and also beating Stunky and Iggly and Purrloin and such). Shadow is good as well, more consistently handling Deino and Seel, though at the cost of a couple Fairies. If you have some left over from your days of Probopass evolving, maybe dust one off and give it a look.

SWINUB

Swinub IceGround

Powder Snow | Icy Wind & Rock Slide/Body Slam

Here we have a very rare case of something having Body Slam in its arsenal and not wanting it. Instead, I recommend Icy Wind and Rock Slide. You gain wins against Shelmet, Ducklett, Snorunt, Lickitung, and Vulpix that you don’t get otherwise. And Icy Wind alone is sufficient to beat Cottonee, Wooper, and Barboach with even very average IVs. There is something to be said for Slam, sure — it makes Deino and Shadow Stunky easier — but overall I like the closing power and potential surprise that comes with Rock Slide. It makes Swinub a more unique and versatile threat, one that I think could be a true MVP on the right teams.

ALOLAN SANDSHREW

Sandshrew (Alola) IceSteel

Powder Snow | Night Slash & Blizzard/Gyro Ball

Another Ice, and one that has a much easier time with Deino, even with a resisted charge move. But that, of course, is not all A-Shrew does. Anything Dragon, Flying, or Grass it put… well, on ice, as well as bonuses like Nincada, Shelmet, Onix, and even Seel. I generally recommend Blizzard as the second move, because even in Little League, Powder Snow CAN get there, but Gyro Ball is a viable alternative that punishes opposing Ices (and Lickitung and Igglybuff) at the cost of Seel, Lotad, Shelmet, and Ducklett. Some teams will want one move, others will want the other. Do YOU want A-Shrew?

ALOLAN VULPIX

Vulpix (Alola) Ice

Powder Snow | Weather Ball (Ice) & Dark Pulse

Not as exciting as A-Shrew or A-Vulpix’s Kanto cousin (more on that in a bit), but definitely still viableDark Pulse keeps Bronzor on its toes too.

SNORUNT

Snorunt Ice

Powder Snow | Icy Wind & Shadow Ball/Avalanche

Yep, ANOTHER viable Ice type. So let’s go through the list and check them off. Beats the Dragons… check. Beats Flyers… check. Beats Grasses… well, it gets Cottonee, at least, so check enough. Beats the Mud Boys too, and A-Dig, and Cubone, and Shelmet & Nincada, and Seel, and even A-Shrew. Yep, seems solid to me. Snorunt’s niche is having Shadow Ball, obviously a potent weapon that even Bronzor has to be wary of. If you want a good Ice, you’re certainly not short on options in this meta!

SEEL

Seel Water

Lick/Ice Shard | Aqua Tail & Icy Wind

Dewgong in Little League, without needing Elite TMs! But it does lack the Ice subtyping, for what that’s worth. (Honestly, that might be a PLUS in this meta. Anyway….) Seel gets Ice Shard AND Icy Wind AND a really solid Water move on top of it, something not even Gong can say. As you might expect, that all leads to a very solid performance, easily beating all the standard Ice targets while also extinguishing things like Vulpix, Onix, Croakgunk and Stunky with Aqua Tail (which also lets it beat Alolan Diglett easily, unlike the other true Ices). But perhaps even better is Seel with Lick, which gives up Deino, Vullaby, and Wooper, but gains Alolan Vulpix, Ice Shard Seel, and Bronzor! Seel may just be the best Ice here overall… and it’s not even really an Ice!

SHADOW STUNKY

Stunky (Shadow) PoisonDark

Bite | Crunch, Sludge Bomb, or Flamethrower

Unfortunately, Stunky does not get Poison Jab like Skuntank, leaving it with slow-to-generate-energy Bite. That leaves Stunky as a very mediocre pick. However, Shadow Stunky is another story. With JUST fast moves, it can chomp through Bronzor, Wynaut, Dratini, and most Flyers, Ices, Grasses, and many more. Yes, you will SOMETIMES want a charge move, and it’s probably actually the more expensive Sludge Bomb or Flamethrower, for coverage, rather than Crunch, which offers no real advantages (and the sims agree). But if you’re stuck with Frustration, you don’t HAVE to add a true charge move at all if you don’t want to, which is nice. Shadow Stunky is like a Grasshole here… maybe call it a Gashole? 😏 Get it? 🦨

SHADOW CARVANHA

Carvanha (Shadow) WaterDark

Bite/Snarl | Poison Fang & Crunch

Want to double down on that kind of performance? Well here ya go. The difference with Carvanha is in the resistances… with it being half Water, it has an easier time chomping through Fires, Ices, and other Waters, leading to a slightly different but no less impressive performance as compared to Stunky. Not bad at all for something with only 25 Defense. 😱 Of course, its 120-plus Attack is just as notable here… insane for Little League. Here is your ultimate glass cannon.

SKRELP

Skrelp PoisonWater

Water Gun | Aqua Tail & Sludge Bomb

Well, it has no answers to Deino or Bronzor, but Skrelp still does a lot of good, cleaning up a lot of the riffraff from Fires to Fairies to Bugs to Rocks to Fighters to Darks to even stuff like Drifblim and Seel. It could be a great flex play filler on several teams.

NIDORAN♀

Nidoran (F) Poison

Poison Sting | Poison Fang & Body Slam

Shadow is best, specifically with Sludge Bomb (rather than the usually recommended Body Slam) to shut the door on both of the Vulpixes. As with Skrelp, you may already have one of these ready from past Little League formats.

VULPIX

Vulpix Fire

Ember | Body Slam/Weather Ball (Fire) & Flamethrower

The best Fire here? Likely true. Vulpix is in a rather unique position of being a Fire that can beat Deino AND Alolan Diglett, as well as doing all the stuff you’d expect a good Fire to do (burning Grasses, Fairies, Ices, Bugs, Steels). Shadow Vulpix has a harder time with Deino but more consistently beats Drifloon and Swinub (and picks up Bonsly), but but also loses Wynaut. The losses are unfortunate, but the overall body of work is good enough for Shadow AND regular that I heartily recommend both.

GROWLITHE

Growlithe Fire

Ember | Body Slam & Flamethrower

Not the best Fire in the format, but more than good enough. It lacks the bulk of Vulpix and therefore cannot outlast Wynaut or Deino as Vulpix can, but it is Growlithe that wins the head to head thanks to winning CMP. If you lack a good Vulpix, Growlithe (or perhaps Tepig from up above) are probably your best replacements.

SHELMET

Shelmet Bug

Infestation | Body Slam & Bug Buzz

You’ve probably seen me mention Shelmet a few times so far and wondered why. Well, this is why. Turns out a good Bug has some real play here, beating Deino (and Dratini) and Wynaut with ease, chewing through Grasses, outlasting the Fighters and Grounds (even A-Diglett) Shelmet resists, and even taking it to Seel, Stunky, Igglybuff and others. Accelgor has never made any headway in PvP, but if you have a good Shelmet, it could do the whole evolutionary line proud, just this once.

KARRABLAST

Karrablast Bug

Fury Cutter | X-Scissor & Drill Run

Doing Beedrill and its own evolution Escavalier proud with its own Drill Run, little Karrablast is another Bug that does a lot of good things in Little Cup. In this case Deino is sadly out of reach (though Karra does outrace it with shield down), but Drill Run is obviously a nice weapon to have to get Bronzor to play honest and clobber a lot of other things in the meta (read as: on the win list I just linked to). Shelmet is a little more reliable, but for those that like big play potential, you can do a lot worse than Karrablast’s Drill Run.

VENONAT

Venonat BugPoison

Bug Bite/Confusion | Poison Fang & Signal Beam

One of the original Little Cup’s bigger stars, and even better since then with Poison Fang’s buff. With Bug Bite it beats Darks (Deino, Stunky, Vullaby) and Barboach, or with Confusion it instead beats down Seel, Shelmet, and Igglybuff. I lean Bug Bite personally, but how about you? Or heck, split the different with Shadow ‘Nat with Bug Bite, which beats everything non-Shadow Bug Bite does except Stunky and Pawniard, and picks up Seel and Igglybuff!

LICKITUNG

Lickitung Normal

Lick | Body Slamᴸ & Grass Knot

Seen a lot of chatter on this one, and sure, if you were smart enough to keep one with Legacy Body Slam around with under 500 CP, hats off to you… you’ve now got one of the bulkiest beasts in this format. But honestly, it’s just okay here. You’d hope for it to tangle with Zoro thanks to Lick, but it really doesn’t, and having a Ghost fast move is a liability with Deino and even Igglybuff, who also win. Wynaut turns the tables on it thanks to Counter. I mean, sure, its list of wins IS enough to make it viable, but Licki doesn’t seem to bring it when and where you want it most. Trot it off if you like it, but just for mop up duty. The biggest and baddest stuff here fends it off.

75,000 Dust/75 Candy

I am going to try to cover these a bit more succinctly, as these are obviously not thrifty picks anymore. So strap in for the final push!

VULLABY

Vullaby DarkFlying

Feint Attack| Brave Bird & Foul Play

I’ve tried to avoid writing about things only achieveable with shenanigans (trading hatches from low level accounts and such), but thankfully Vullaby was a research breakthrough reward late last year, so you could get it at Level 15 and, upon trading, easily end up with one that fits under 500 CP. And it’s worth the trouble. Not only is it a great Bronzor counter, but it does plenty of other Dark AND Flying things too. Vullaby should be one of the best new additions to Little Cup this time around.

NINCADA

Nincada BugGround

Bug Bite | Night Slash & Bug Buzz

I mentioned how a good Bug can do good things. Well, while Nincada is rather expensive to second move and doesn’t have an initially impressive list of wins, it gets GOOD wins, like Deino and Shelmet and Wynaut. I like it as a handy spice pick that can panic the opponent once it sees what it’s capable of.

DRATINI

Dratini Dragon

Dragon Breath | Aqua Tail (& Wrap?)

Savings alert: you can run Dratini with Aqua Tail as its only charge move, save some serious dust, and really not even notice. The sims only ever want to use it anyway, as its other charge moves are pretty poor. Shadow is the one you really want, having enough firepower to beat things like (Lick) Seel, Purrloin, Drifloon, Barboach, and even Deino. One big plus to Dratini is that practically nothing behind Charmers truly blows it out, taking the fight hard to even things with clear advantages over it, like Bronzor and Ices. If you’re unsure how to fill your third team slot, Dratini isn’t a terrible choice for practically any team.

DRIFLOON

Drifloon GhostFlying

Hex | Icy Wind & Shadow Ball

Quite literally just a baby Drifblim, right down to the same bulky body and moveset. That means that Loon terrorizes Grounds, Fighters, Bugs, Grasses, and Psychics in equal parts. And yes, Loon CAN beat Bronzor if you play it right (it’s even easier in other shielding scenarios). That and the other good it can do means that Loon should be a very popular pick in this meta… don’t let its late arrival in this article lead you to think it’s NOT a big part of Little Cup!

ONIX

Onix RockGround

Rock Throw | Sand Tomb & Stone Edge/Rock Slideᴸ

There’s good news and bad news here. The good: beats Dragons, Bugs, Flyers, Fires. Bad news: this ain’t no Steelix, and you’ve got no shot against Zoro, Grounds, Waters, Fighters, or even most Ices. Maybe that still fits your team, and I DO like Onix overall, but there are big downsides it has to overcome to work. Good luck if you want to try… I hope it DOES work!

SKORUPI

Skorupi PoisonBug

Poison Sting | Aqua Tail & Sludge Bomb

Got one leftover from other Little League formats? Good, because you can use it here too, in normal or in Shadow form. Just get ready to flee before Bronzor. 😱

JANGMO-O

Jangmo-o DragonFighting

Dragon Tail | Dragon Pulse & Dragon Claw/Brick Break

Honestly, Janga doesn’t do anything particularly special (though beating Deino straight up is nice to see), but as a Dragon that resists a lot of relevant typings, there are far worse ways to round out a team. If you have one you can use, this is a decent way to get some use out of it while you grind for enough candy to evolve it up to Kommo-o down the line.

And I could cover EVEN MORE, but I have to stop sometime, especially as we’re right up against Little Cup’s return! So I’ll end it here and let you get to prepping!

That said, I am still working feverishly to finish a companion corebreaker article (specifically targetting how to beat Bronzor), so look for that soon!

Until next time, you can always find me on Twitter for near-daily PvP analysis nuggets, or Patreon. And please, feel free to comment here with your own thoughts or questions and I’ll try to get back to you!

Thank you for reading! I very much appreciate you taking the time, and sincerely hope this helps you master Little Cup, and in the most affordable way possible. Best of luck, and catch you next time!

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